Nuku Hiva - French Colonialism at its best!

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Tue 23 Apr 2013 03:14
Nuku Hiva - French Colonialism at its best!
Quick geography lesson:  French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France and while French is the official language, local Polynesian languages are preferred by the locals.  There are 4 groups of islands spread out over a huge area - approx: from 154W to 135W and 9S to 24S. The groups are: The well known Society islands, with the capital city Papeete on Tahiti island ; The Tuamotus (flat atolls);  The mountainous Marquesas;  and then the even more remote Australs.  French Polynesia uses the CFP currency, shared with New Caledonia (another French territory close to Australia) 
We landed on the island of Nuku Hiva - the second biggest island in all of French Polynesia at 340 sq km, and the nearest settlement to the USA.  It is the administrative capital of the Marquesas - but has a population of only just over 2600 people.  The people are friendly and very typically Polynesian - large, tattooed and the ladies have flowers in their hair! 
The main town is Taiohae Bay ..and what a delight! There are 3 decent small supermarkets, stocking all kinds of good food, including French wines, cheeses, cold cuts & even herbs! There is also lamb and dairy products from New Zealand, lots of seafood and frozen meats, fresh baguettes  etc, etc.  There is also a stationery store with a good supply of computer consumables, lots of magazines and a few books too (French of course) There is a small hospital; a petrol/ diesel station; a number of outdoor restaurants and a small hotel.  There is a bank, 3 ATM machines and a post office that also serves as the cell phone agency - Mike's South African phone works here!  On anchor in the bay there are 3 different internet service providers  to choose from (slow due to Satellite link) .  There is a decent quay to tie up your dinghy with a local fresh produce and artisan market close by. There is also a yacht services company (English speaking) that can organize anything from car rentals to airport transfers, to customs assistance and does laundry. On top of all this, the local are welcoming and the town is spotless, with the smell of Frangipani flowers everywhere.  And did I mention that there is no charge to be anchored here!
I have been to a lot of islands over the last five years but "size to services" this one beats them all. In fact it beats many of the towns we have visited that are on the main land, with road access to cities fairly close by!  I put this down to the  financial support and organization of the French government. There is no way a small subsistence type economy could do this on their own. .. and yet, there is talk of independence.
A very interesting sight, is the number of "transvestites" here - and I don’t mean high heeled drag queens!  I mean, fairly effeminate men, dressed as regular everyday women. I have read, that in a family with many sons, the youngest son may be brought up as a girl to help the mother and I also that there is no stigma/ negativity attached to anyone being gay. Awesome!
On the fish front .. things have picked up! Firstly we had a very nice lunch of the local delicacy called Poisson Cru - which is raw tuna mixed briefly with lemon juice and then served in cold coconut milk with cucumber....nice!  The local fishermen come back each day with a selection of fish which they clean on the quay, but Mike and John also finally caught 2 tuna - which we have enjoyed as sashimi, and there is a lot more in the freezer! Unfortunately there is Ciguatera (poisonous) in the reef fish - so no Grouper for us!
Artisan Market                                                                                        Fragrant Frangipani
Local fishermen cleaning their catch                                                    French Government Building
Mike & Johns Yellow-fin Tuna                                                                            Sashimi on Time2